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Cousteau Dialogue Corner
Dive below the surface in our interview with Pierre-Yves Cousteau!

Marine exploration and environmental awareness-raising run deep in Pierre-Yves Cousteau’s family.


As the youngest son of the legendary marine explorer, author and documentary-maker Jacques-Yves Cousteau, he took to the ocean naturally. He is now leading the fight against marine plastic and other environmental threats to our oceans.   


Pierre-Yves has just become Ambassador for sea turtles as part of UN Environment’s Wild for Life campaign.

For World Sea Turtle Day (16 June), he takes us below the surface and tell us of the threats to this species and what we can do to protect them. “Conservation works – we just need more of it,” Pierre-Yves underlines.

UN Environment Europe: Mr Pierre-Yves Cousteau, I wish to first ask you first your personal connection to oceans and marine environment. Can you please tell us why you are so passionate about it ?

I fell in love with the ocean the first time its surf washed up on my feet. The ocean instantly captivated me by its wilderness, power and softness. The great unifier, the ocean runs from the rivers to the seas, from the clouds to the sources, and through each one of us. Beneath its surface, I found weightless bliss and a vast unknown world full of mysteries and surprising creatures. What is there not to love about the ocean?

Could you tell us more about what is going on for sea turtles worldwide (three of the seven existing species of marine turtle are critically endangered)?

We have severely impacted sea turtle populations worldwide for centuries. Every disposable plastic bag, straw, cup, or cutlery we use goes straight into the sea and is there easily mistaken for food by marine animals such as sea turtles. Global coastal development has pulverised their nesting grounds. Targeted fisheries and accidental by-catch add another layer of threat... while maritime transportation provokes collisions. The diversity of these threats make it very difficult to manage and conserve sea turtles.

And sea turtles play an important role in the ocean. They are ecosystem engineers, meaning that they help shape the environment around them with their feeding behaviour. They keep jellyfish and fish larvae numbers in check and modify the benthic communities by feeding on seagrass and sponges. And then of course they are incredibly beautiful and graceful.

What is needed to protect sea turtles ? You may share with us a positive news about some communities who have been engaged in its protection

We need large marine sanctuaries, which protect the various stage of the turtle's life cycle and therefore include nesting beaches. Hatcheries can help increase the survival of juveniles. And of course, we need more science! The better we understand the migrations, the life cycle, physiology and behaviour of these animals, the better we can effectively protect them. Conservation works. We just need more of it.

As Wild for Life Ambassador for sea turtles, what are going to do to protect these marvellous species ?

Through my organisation Cousteau Divers and my personal social media channels, I constantly raise awareness to these magnificent creatures and many more. As a Wild for Life ambassador, I pledge to continue to systematically refuse single-use plastic, and to fight for the creation of marine sanctuaries worldwide.

How can each of us be game changers and help protect them?

Each of us can have a huge impact to help protect sea turtles, mainly by cutting single-use plastic out of our lives. Refuse it, along with all turtle products (shells, eggs, etc.. often made into jewellery).

Tell the barman you don't want two straws in your drink, and tell him why. Each of us can have an impact alone, but in order to maximise this impact we have to be outspoken about why we make our consumption choices.

We have to create a culture that respects the environment and businesses will follow suit, driving innovation and decoupling economic growth from negative environmental externalities.

You have no idea how powerful your voice and actions are, until you try. Now is the time to come together and speak up for these graceful creatures and for the vast ocean that is their home.


In order to end the illegal trade in wildlife, we must change attitudes and motivate people to make informed choices that don’t threaten biodiversity. Wild for Life is UN Environment’s most successful ever digital campaign and aims to inform and inspire people across the globe in this regard.


For more information and for the chance to ask your questions to Mr Cousteau, please write to or


Pour lire cet entretien en français, veuillez cliquer ici. Pour plus d’informations et pour l’opportunité de poser vos questions à M.Cousteau, contactez ou









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